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Merthyr Tydfil and District Naturalists’ Society Awarded Community Benefit Grant of £71,300


Ffos-y-Fran Funding Helps Naturalists Evolve Educational Offer

Children and adults will soon be able to learn more about the wildlife and natural history of Merthyr Tydfil, thanks to a charity working to encourage better knowledge of the local environment.

Merthyr Tydfil and District Naturalists’ Society, which owns Cilsanws Nature Reserve, has been awarded a Ffos-y-fran Community Benefit Grant of £71,300 towards construction of a ‘fantastic’ centre to store essential reserve equipment currently spread across five garages and a number of sheds.

The reserve is part of a circular walk taking in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and another two nature reserves, and acts as a central point from which the society runs a programme of free field meetings and lectures.

The Naturalists’ Society was formed in 1977 by a group of ‘like-minded’ people who wanted to share their love of natural history and the countryside.  Today it has more than 100 members.

“Renowned for its industrial heritage, Merthyr Tydfil and the countryside around give rise to a rich variety of natural habitats, a wide range of geological features, many fascinating reminders of our human pre-industrial presence and some rare and endangered species,” said Society Chair Sue Taylor.

“We wanted to make sure that local people’s children and their children’s children would be able to enjoy the wild side of Merthyr Tydfil today and for years to come.”

Cilsanws Reserve is a limestone and millstone grit moorland which links to the SSSI Penmoelallt Woodland to the north and Webber’s Pond – a disused colliery reservoir and now managed habitat for wildlife – to the south, all managed by the society. It also links to the Taff Trail, Cilsanws Common and the Taf Fechan Natural Reserve.

“Through the spring and summer we visit places of interest, manage the reserves and hold educational fun days for all the family,” Sue added.  “And during the autumn and winter, we host fun days and presentations given by enthusiastic naturalists and scientists on a variety of fascinating wild life topics.”

The Society collaborates with a number of organisations to teach groups about biodiversity, including scouting groups, schools and other community organisations in the county borough.  It also welcomes tourists by linking with visitor accommodation providers.

“This facility is fantastic for us – our equipment has been scattered across so many venues – and it will allow us to organise larger scale and more frequent events,” said Trustee and project manager Andy GIlchrist.  “We are indebted to the Ffos-y-fran Fund for the support.”

The Ffos-y-fran Community Benefit Fund was established by local mining company Miller Argent, which donates £1 for every ton of coal sold from the Ffos-y-fran land reclamation scheme.  More than £5m has been awarded to a wide range of groups and causes since the site opened in 2007.

Miller Argent Managing Director Neil Brown said:

“Merthyr Tydfil and District Naturalists’ Society works to educate and inform young and older people from across the county borough and beyond about their rich and fascinating local heritage.  We’re delighted to be able to support this very worthwhile project.”

  • The Ffos-y-fran Community Benefit Fund supports local community projects with an educational, environmental or leisure emphasis. Intermediate grants are for revenue/capital costs and awarded up to a maximum of £5,000.

The closing date for applications from the next round of awards is 31 March, 2016. Application forms are available by emailing [email protected]; tel 01685 725289.

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